CICLOPS: Cassini Imaging Central Laboratory for OPerationS

Angles in the Atmosphere
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Angles in the Atmosphere
PIA 10449

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  In the low light near Saturn's north pole, Cassini captures a partial view of the planet's unique hexagonal feature.

Saturn's north polar hexagon was fully imaged in thermal infrared by Cassini in Oct. 2006 (see PIA09188). The imaging cameras will see progressively more of the feature as solar illumination creeps northward with the onset of spring in the northern hemisphere.

One side and two corners of the hexagon are seen at center.

The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on July 13, 2008. The view was obtained at a distance of approximately 748,000 kilometers (465,000 miles) from Saturn. Image scale is 41 kilometers (26 miles) per pixel.

The Cassini Equinox Mission is a joint United States and European endeavor. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter was designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging team consists of scientists from the US, England, France, and Germany. The imaging operations center and team lead (Dr. C. Porco) are based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo.

For more information about the Cassini Equinox Mission visit, and

Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute
Released: August 18, 2008 (PIA 10449)
Image/Caption Information

Alliance Member Comments
Red_dragon (Aug 19, 2008 at 2:14 PM):
Thanks for letting me know. No doubt that north polar vortex will be something worth to see.
I was thinking that because the in south pole region, there's no hexagon. Perhaps an alike structure could form there when winter arrives to the southern hemisphere (and vice-versa), but for that we'll have to wait a few years.
NeKto (Aug 19, 2008 at 12:57 PM):
Red dragon; Carolyn reminded me that the hexagon has been there since the voyager fly-bys. i think it will stil be there come Saturn spring. the latest images i saw indicate there is a huricane like eye at the north very similar to the south pole. they were InfraRed images so it isn't certain yet. if you remember an image called "string of pearls" also in IR, i think that was another indicator that there are very strong resonant forces in Saturn's northern hemisphere. the angle here looks like it might be secondary to the hexagon. so far i have failed to imagine any force that could be so strongly resonant in the north and leave no evidence of resonance in the south. one of the things i really love about Cassinni is it the marvelous little robot is leaving us with such great questions!
Red_dragon (Aug 19, 2008 at 4:31 AM):
Excellent. Check out also

I wonder what will happen to the hexagon when summer returns to Saturn's northern hemisphere. Perhaps it will disappear and/or a largue hurricane as that of Saturn's south pole will appear there. Just hope Cassini will see it.

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